By Per Peterson
The last time there was this much commotion at the Red Rooster, people were driving off with furniture and artifacts from the former restaurant that were being sold off by the Tracy Development Corporation. This time, however, Tracy residents were delivering their possessions — personal items that were ruined in last week’s flood.
The collection site was open for three days last week and will reopen again Thursday. It was the go-to place for flood-weary residents to get rid of everything from small and large furniture items, to major appliances. Some residents made one trip to the dump site between the Red Rooster and City of Tracy Public Works building on Hwy. 14, while others made as many as six.
The site opened at 9 a.m. last Thursday. Cars and trucks pulling trailers began filing in at 9:15 a.m. City residents had to verify their address and come with items separated. Debris types that were accepted included construction and demolition debris, household hazardous waste, washers, dryers and ovens, TVs, computers and other electronics, household debris, carpet and mattresses.
“Day One we took in about 200,000 pounds of garbage,” Tracy Fire Chief Dale Johnson III said. “Between two contractors with side-dumps and the local sanitation company, city staff, public works, fire department … we had pay loaders, skid loaders — people pulled up, they got logged in, everybody grabbed stuff, threw it in the buckets. We ran back and forth to the landfill south of Marshall.”
Johnson said there were 365 loads hauled away the first day, plus 136 the second day and 172 more the third day. He estimated as much as 400,000 pounds of garbage was hauled out of town last week.
“I applaud the firemen who worked to help their community, knowing that when they got done helping until 9 at night, they had to go start working on their basement,” Tracy Police Chief Jason Lichty said.
Johnson said firemen worked tirelessly, not only at the dump site, but also helping with pumping and diverting traffic, as their significant others ‘are calling saying there’s eight feet of sewage in their basement.’
Most volunteer fire department members had the 4th off to attend to their own homes, only to turn around and head back to the dump site by 7:30 the next morning. “And that went until 9 at night,” said Johnson. “The firemen, public works, the police department … Lyon County Landfill extended their hours for our facility only.” To Lichty’s knowledge, the only staff that worked on the 4th were department heads.
The City of Tracy will pick up the tab for the collection site, although the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will pay for part of the demolition, Johnson said.
Hours for the collection site will be from noon to 7 p.m. on Thursday and on Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Everything that was accepted initially will be accepted again. The hours have been curtailed a bit because those who helped man the site have to get back to their jobs to some extent. Johnson said the city must staff the site in order for it to open, because of the hazardous nature of some of the materials. All full-time city employees — including members of the fire department and police department — are licensed to work with hazardous waste.
“They need to go do city stuff, because they haven’t done it for the week — whether it’s the part-time people mowing lawns, the full-time people fixing stuff,” Johnson said. ‘The firemen need to go to work for a few days; they need to go back to their jobs, they need to go back to their homes. That’s why it’s closed right now.”
Also, Johnson, said, Southwest Sanitation needs to serve other customers with its dumpsters and roll-off containers. Johnson said Sunday the city believes most if not all of the sewage-damaged items have been hauled out of town, so there’s little risk in it being left in people’s front lawns.
Johnson was appreciative of everyone who stepped up to man the collection site for as long as they did.
“Friday night, Sara Stoneberg, who did the log-in book — she is a 40-hour-a-week part-time employee for the city — is like, ‘So this is open tomorrow? You want me here at what time?’” Johnson said. “Keith Schons, the first day of the dumpsite, is out there. Every employee of the city who had a piece of equipment we could use — a pump, a skid loader — should be thanked. Everybody just worked together; it didn’t matter what title you had.”